How to Help Employees Avoid Burning Out

By Kaitlin Hurtado on March 28, 2024

Anyone who has been employed can recall a time when they experienced burnout at their job. As much as you as an employee took steps to avoid experiencing burnout, there were likely factors out of your control and that impacted your ability to avoid burnout. If you are an employer, you have likely seen employees experience burnout and how it affected your team and processes overall. Burnout is not just felt at an individual employee level, but it is something that has a widespread effect that many fail to recognize until something major happens. While there is only so much you can control as an employer, you can still use your position to help your employees avoid burning out. Keep reading for tips on helping your employees avoid burning out.

Photo: Pexels

Understanding employee burnout

Employee burnout refers to the state of physical and/or mental exhaustion brought on by an individual’s work conditions. This can be brought on by a variety of work factors, from work schedules and coworker interactions to workloads.

Employee burnout can show differently depending on the employee and the situation. You may see the following signs from an employee experiencing burnout:

- Decreased productivity or performance (increased mistakes, failure to meet deadlines)

- Irritability or sensitivity

- Physical and mental exhaustion

- Signs of detachment from work and fellow team members

Offer work-from-home flexibility

Now that we are a few years into the pandemic, many companies are once again shifting their policies around remote work. Some companies that were entirely remote are now transitioning into a hybrid workstyle, while others are having employees work more onsite than at home. Regardless, having to shift to onsite work again can be disruptive for many, whether it’s having to find alternate childcare again or having to factor in long commutes once more.

Onsite work can lead to burnout when the time that employees had to destress is held up by a longer commute time, or even having to adjust to the many aspects of working onsite full-time can have employees feeling burnout much quicker than if they were working remotely. With that being said, consider your company’s current policies and see if there is flexibility for your employees. They may feel pressured to be fully on-site, however, remind them of the flexibility that they do have or show you are willing to work to meet their current needs.

Focus on cross-training and having established back-ups for each role

Depending on the field of work you are in and your current team, you may have a streamlined process for having employees pick up another’s work in the event that they are out of the office or have to shift to another project. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially if you are working with a team of new hires or a team that handles different tasks individually.

When a process or task is assigned to one person, it’s understandable that they may feel heightened pressure to meet the demands of their job if they feel like they will not be able to find additional support from their team. This can lead to employees overworking themselves if they feel like they are in a position where they cannot ask for help when they need it.

To prevent this, think about how you can implement cross-training on your team where there is not a single task that cannot be completed by at least two people on your team. This way, there is always an alternate person ready to assist with a single task.

Promote time off, not just entire weeks at a time

Unfortunately, not all employees take advantage of their PTO, whether it’s for a long vacation or taking sick time. This can be due to several reasons. One employee may feel like their work will just pile up, leaving them to spend even more time playing catch-up once they are back. Another employee may feel like they need to “save” their time off in the event of an emergency where they actually need it.

As an employer, encourage your employees to take time off. Remind them that this doesn’t mean they need to take weeks off at a time, but that they can and should take a day or two off when they need a break. Have an established process around coverage when someone on your team is out so no one is fearful of having a pile of work waiting for them after a day off. Even allowing an employee to leave a few hours early ahead of the weekend can give them a jump start to a much-needed restful weekend.

Employee burnout is common, especially in fields that are fast-paced and stress-inducing. As an employee, there are things you can do to help prevent your employees from experiencing burnout.

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